I first want to thank Chairman Mack for convening this hearing. The Congress needs to do more oversight of federal agencies. It is our job to make sure that the agencies are enforcing and obeying the laws.
I have been very pleased with the Senate's oversight of the Internal Revenue Service. That oversight has produced important legislation, and I know that Senator Mack has been part of that effort.
HUD is in need of similar oversight. As the Chairman knows, the General Accounting Office has categorized HUD as a "high risk agency" for a number of years.
Each and every year, the American people are asked to spend over $25 billion of their hard-earned tax dollars on HUD programs. Clearly, the taxpayers are not getting their money's worth.
There is plenty of blame to go around. HUD has been poorly run under both Republican and Democratic Administrations and Congresses.
I am one of those who favors dramatic reform. I happen to believe that both taxpayers and public housing tenants would be better served if public housing funds were block-granted directly to the states in coordination with the approach we took with welfare reform in the last Congress. Welfare reform is working.
I also believe that the most efficient means of administering housing resources is through the use of vouchers.
For me, the threshold question is how can we serve the truly needy in the most efficient and cost-effective manner.
I share the view expressed in the 1994 National Academy of Public Administration report on HUD: "If, after five years, HUD is not operating under a clear legislative mandate and in an effective, accountable manner, the president and the Congress should seriously consider dismantling the department and moving its core programs elsewhere."
Congress requested that report. That was four years ago. At some point we have to put the interests of the tenants and the taxpayers above the interests of a perpetual bureaucracy.
I recognize that HUD programs have evolved over several
decades. Reform will take time and will involve a lot of hard
work. But I will continue to support that reform for as long as I
am a member of the Senate.
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